Thursday, January 05, 2006

A Short History...

So, in Córdoba now, it´s as beautiful as ever. Lots of lakes and rivers nearby the city which become resort vacation spots in the summer. Beautiful pueblitos great for a day trip.

So, here´s some backtrackin of what´s been going on recently....

...I`m spending Christmas in Buenos Aires and luckily will be surrounded by friends that I`ve met over the last few months, some from Venezuela and others from the road. It`ll be a truly international Christmas with friends coming together from 4 continents and my first spent in the Southern Hemisphere (it`s 85 degrees today!). We`ve been cooking a lot and trying to make it feel Christmassy despite the perfect weather. I`m lucky enough that one of my friends that I`m staying with, Negro, is a Chef (his job), which has been amazing thus far and doesn`t seem to quit. Then for New Years it`s off to a friend`s beach house at the posh Pinamar to end the year right while getting a tan--tough life.

I haven`t written much since Thanksgiving because I`ve been on the move so much with little time to stop and organize things. In the past month I think that I have lived enough good stories to entertain hours of conversation...but I`ll try to just write a couple of bits and pieces while leaving the rest for another time.

I left Pucon, Chile (see attached map), to return to Argentina on a decrepit bus (fully loaded) and a gravel road...rain filling the skies. Amazing drive crossing the Andes on such a road. At the border crossing (my 2nd at this point), Volcan Lanìn, I met a Swiss guy named Andreas who would travel with me for the next week or so. After contemplating a climb of Lanìn, we moved on to Bariloche, Argentina where we quickly gathered together some gear and got up into the mountains. Andreas is an experienced mountaineer (trained in the Swiss Army, climbed in Nepal, etc.) and I felt lucky to be up there with him. He convinced me that we could be the first of the year to do a pass between two huts that had yet to beattempted because of all the snow...there was plenty and it was a pretty harrowing experience to be climbing in snow that was at places 9ft. deep and one missed step could have sent you down about 2000ft. Especially considering my equipment--used boots that I`d bought that day. My $10 sleeping bag didn`t help too much also when we were camping on snow the second night in -15 Celsius! But overall, the 3 days afforded us some spectacular views, some good boot skiing, and all in all an amazing time.

Next I met up with a friend of mine from Holland, Marc, that I had travelled with a bit before, and we went back over to Chile to see the island of Chiloè which eerily resembles the North of New Zealand...also, parts of the archipelago have just within the past year been hooked up to electricity and it is a really interesting fishing and farming culture that differs from mainland Chile. En route to Chiloé, as well as on the way out, we had to spend a night in Puerto Montt which seemed to us to be a pretty depressed (and depressing) rainy place. That is where we met our enterprising friend Franco who had us sleep the first time in his house and the second in his Mom´s house...he was an interesting little person that you had to meet to fully appreciate. Then back to Argentina to fly down to El Calafate via LADE, a government subsidized airline which at times can actually be cheaper than taking a bus...very nice to save 30 hours of bus trip! Oh yeah, one of the highlights of Chiloè was seeing a blind man who wore a toupee and had a little bit of an Elton John style going on--we found this first strange that someone who can`t see was so worried about appearance...but then decided that the people he was travelling with were just pranksters. It was funny, I digress. In El Calafate we had a great day that started with a stunning ridge hike, then we went to the Glacier...which is a very famous tourist attraction here. This glacier, Moreno Glacier, is amazing. I`ve seen, and walked on glaciers before, usually they are just there, moving very slowly, not too exciting. However, this one is so famous because of how close you can get to it and how enormous it is. The face of the glacier that looks over the lake is between 60 and 80m tall, about 200 feet. I completely lost my sense of scale when I first got there because you feel like you are very close and that it isn`t so big. Then you hear a piece fall off, what looks like a little pebble until it hits the water and is followed a second later by a sound like an enormous clap of thunder. So this is what people do, go to the glacier for hours just to listen to it`s amazing size and to hopefully see a big piece fall off. We were lucky and after our two hours (from 8-10pm, around sunset), right before leaving we saw a huge slab of the wall come off. Really loud (although looked like slow motion from the distance we watched it happen), then after about 60 seconds the big piece came charging up to the surface from the bottom of the lake and caused another big eruption. It was amazing, and I think the "best picture to tell the story" is "BPTTTS" in the "Argentina" album where you can see a tiny little person between the camera and the glacier..and this person is still very far from the glacier (we thought about 200m, maybe more). Good stuff.

After that we headed to Parque Nacional Torres del Paine, in Chile, which is South America`s most famous park. Beautiful views, but we didn`t pace ourselves quite well enough. Walked 15miles the first day (which included seeing a girl I went to high school with, in the park...small world) and 12 hours the second (which was a lot more than 15miles) with packs that seemed to get heavier with every step. After 10 hours the second day Marc called it quits and my pack got a bit heavier as I started carrying his stuff as well. It was nice, though, to arrive to the campsite and see a few people I had met a couple of weeks we had a good chat until I couldn`t stand up any longer. The park was amazing, though. Then, I decided to skip Ushuai, the world`s southernmost city on Tierra del Fuego, and started what would become a 4 day, 40 bus hours, and one night sleeping in a bus terminal odyssey back to Buenos Aires (6th border crossing). Because of the close time of my first connection I didn`t have time to shower after I got out of the park, which of course made the next four days even more fun! The one night that I wasn`t sleeping on a bus I slept in the station (all the hotels were booked due to some convention in town...), but luckily enough five separate friends of mine that I had met while travelling wondered into the station at different times and kept me company for a little bit. I was a pretty sorry sight with my sleeping bag, next to all of my homeless friends. My friend John, who`s from VA and was even more delirious than me, suggested jokingly that I should hire one of them to act as bodyguard while I slept...decided against that.

Anyhow, that´s a bit of insight into my whereabouts and wanderings.

That´s it. And in other news my camera is officially out of service due to the unrelenting efforts of a certain unnamed "friend." So we´ll see what´s to happen with that situation...but one thing for sure is that new pictures are not being taken at the


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